Brothel Owners

Victoria has a legalisation/licensing system of sex work laws. These laws require brothel owners to be licensed with Consumer Affairs Victoria, as well as to abide by further regulations. Sex work licensing does not treat brothels like other businesses. The regulation of brothel owners illustrates this. Brothel owners:

  • must be licensed on a publicly available register
  • must pay high licensing fees
  • must not be bankrupt
  • must not have been convicted of a disqualifying offence
  • must undergo criminal history record checks
  • cannot own more than one brothel
  • cannot operate a brothel with more than six rooms available for sexual services
  • cannot allow alcohol to be served on the premises

Since 2005 there has been a reduction in the number of licensed owners.

Consumer Affairs Victoria Annual Report 2020
Source: Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)
  1. The figures above do NOT reflect the number of licensed brothels and escort agencies in Victoria. There may be more than one owner per brothel/escort agency. In 2020, there were 88 licensed brothels and 22 licensed escort agencies.
  2. Consumer Affairs Victoria refers to licensed brothel/escort agency owners as ‘sex industry business owners (licensees)’
  3. The graph above excludes unlicensed brothel and unlicensed escort agency owners
Source: Business Licensing Authority
  1. Based on all 111 licensed sex industry business owners.
  2. Graph based on data dated 30 June, 2020.
  3. Source: Email received on 9 December 2020 from the Business Licensing Authority
    View the email here.
    View the attachment from the BLA containing the raw data here.
  4. Sex industry businesses include both brothels and escort agencies.
  5. As most sex industry businesses are brothels, it is likely most of the licensed owners and managers in Victoria work in brothels, rather than escort agencies.
  6. Each brothel may have more than one manager and more than one owner. 
  7. Each escort agency may have more than one manager and more than one owner.
  8. The Business Licensing Authority and Consumer Affairs Victoria refer to sex industry business managers as ‘sex work brothel managers’
  9. The graphs above exclude unlicensed sex industry businesses.

How many licensed brothels in your council area?

Number of Licensed Brothels Per Local Government Area

brothels local government
  1. Numbers on graph denote number of licensed brothels per local government area
  2. Source: RED Magazine, Brothel Listing page
  3. Figures accurate as of 2019
  4. Figures only include licenced brothels. Graph does not include unlicensed brothels (massage parlours)

The decline in the number of licensed brothel owners mirrors the decline in the number of licensed brothels as a result of increased competition from unlicensed (illegalbrothels (massage parlours). For further explanation, see our page Why is the Number of Legal Brothels Decreasing?

© Sex Work Law Reform Victoria 2022

Last Updated: 26 September 2022